This is a message to the millennials. This is to those poor souls who are currently going through the dreaded “quarter-life crisis” and those who are about to embark on it. This is to those who are stuck in that awful middle-ground between being an experienced kid and being an inexperienced adult.
Here’s the thing about a quarter-life crisis: you’ve got to chill out about it.
Yes, you’re terrified, confused, anxious, and depressed. It all comes with the mid-twenties territory. But if you want to get through this period of your life, you’ve got to stop sweating about it. Here’s why:
This time it really is “just a phase”
Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly like that time you cut your own fringe, died your black and listened to My Chemical Romance. But it’s still a phase and you will get through it, although probably not unscathed. Of course, it doesn’t feel like anything will ever make sense again, but you’ve got to remind yourself that all the confusion and worry will end.
You’re never going to know what’s going to happen
Yes, it is just a phase. The worry, the stress, the confusion. That will eventually ease up. That feeling of isolation? That’ll end too. But the truth is that you’re probably never going to know what’s going to happen. You could end up writing a novel, working security jobs in Gauteng, or running a successful NGO. You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and – no matter how old you get – you’re not going to develop the ability to see into the future.
Nobody knows what they’re doing
Nobody, at any age, actually knows what they’re doing. And that’s a good thing. Imagine waking up every morning and doing the same thing every day. Sounds awful, right? Well, that’s the only way you’ll ever really know what you’re doing all of the time.
You’re not alone
No matter how lonely and isolated you feel, you are not alone in this. This is exactly like that time in high school when you were convinced that nobody understood you. Most of your friends are going through it too. You’re all in this together. They may not have the same specific concerns, but it’s highly likely that they’re in the same headspace.
It’s not even remotely that bad
A quarter-life crisis, while a very real thing, is the very definition of a “middle-class problem”. If you have time to stress about these things, it means you don’t have worse things to stress about. You’re stressing about your career, when you’re going to travel, and relationships. Not where your next meal is coming from. So remind yourself of that. Don’t feel guilty about what you’re feeling, but put it into perspective.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your quarter-life crisis will end. You won’t necessarily figure out how to do the whole “real life” thing over night, but you’ll learn to cope with it. Everybody does. But while you’re going through this, try to think about the ways your quarter-life crisis could actually be good for you.